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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Seven Stanzas at Easter


Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that – pierced – died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

from Collected Poems 1953-1993
copyright © 1993 by John Updike

5 Comments:

Blogger Jon said...

Thanks, Darrell, great icon, and um, pretty good poem. "Max Planck's quanta???"

I love the icon, though. Christ standing victoriously on the cross, now not even a cross, but an X. "X Marks the Spot!" Kind of like the icon of Buddha "Calling the Earth to Witness."

11:29 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

I like the poem's insistence upon gritty reality very much. Especially the reference to quanta!

At the same time I'm confused by the first stanza, as to the author's intent. What did it mean in 1960 when it was written? Too much reality back then? Or not enough?

Yet the last stanza seems to agree with my first reading; don't repackage the resurrection, rob it of its mystery and monstrosity, for ease of consumption.

I do like that poem. Thanks, Darrell.

11:04 AM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger AP3 said...

Beautiful poem.

11:07 AM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger gratefulbear said...

I think Updike's intent in the first stanza is to illustrate some of the physical aspects of Jesus' resurrection. It wasn't a mystical or symbolic resurrection but an actual, physical one.

And Jon, in the part of the poem about the "weightiness" of the angel at the tomb, Updike uses language that is weighty ("Max Planck's quanta"). He uses an un-poetic phrase to make a poetic point.

12:12 AM, April 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Christ standing victoriously on the cross"

Actually, Jon, those are the broken gates of hell, not the cross.

Notice the locks, chains and keys scattered below.

- Orthodox person

2:52 PM, April 17, 2006  

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